Brace Yourself, Big Changes Coming with ‘HTTPS’

For webmasters, content developers, and business owners alike, search engine optimization, or SEO, is an essential part of driving search traffic to your website. There are several ways to enhance SEO and improve rank and visibility on results pages, but switching your website from “HTTP” to “HTTPS” is an important, effective, and recommended strategy for increased optimization results, as well as increased privacy and security.

HTTP versus HTTPS: What’s the Difference?

You probably recognize the familiar acronym “HTTP” that magically and mysteriously appears in your address bar every time you visit a website, but do you happen to know what it stands for or what purpose it serves? Moreover, are you aware of why the shift to “HTTPS” has gained so much traction and attention over the past four years? In 2014, Google officially announced that switching your website from HTTP to HTTPS will give you a minor ranking boost, but is that the only benefit? Let’s explore the evolution of HTTP to HTTPS, including the pros and cons associated with each, in more detail.

HyperText Transfer Protocol, or HTTP, is the means by which information is sent and received across the Internet. In technical terms, HTTP is an “application layer protocol,” which means that the data being communicated between the browser and the website is sent over in plain text. Although HTTP is said to be stateless, meaning that no attempt is made to remember specific information that is entered, the lack of a secure connection increases the likelihood that your data may be intercepted and exposed. This is especially concerning for those of us who use the Internet to pay bills or make purchases — two common activities that require our most sensitive information!

To prevent massive security breaches of personal information, HyperText Transfer Protocol Secure, or HTTPS, was developed to ensure that all information we view or send is secure. The chief difference between HTTP and HTTPS is that instead of acting as its own application layer protocol, HTTPS works in conjunction with two separate protocols — SSL (Secure Sockets Layer) and TLS (Transport Layer Security) — for added privacy and security.

Neither HTTP nor HTTPS are particularly concerned with how information gets from one point to another; so the SSL has the incredibly important task of ensuring that all information travels through a secure ‘tunnel’ to its ultimate destination. Without getting overly technical, the SSL also encrypts the information that is being sent, which means that the true meaning of your most sensitive data (bank statements, credit card numbers, and login information) is disguised, making it more difficult for a third party intruder to access or decipher.

The Benefits of Switching to HTTPS

  • As you might expect, HTTPS has faster speeds and connections than HTTP. This is because encrypted websites supporting HTTPS have already been certified as secure, whereas unencrypted websites supporting HTTP need to be filtered and scanned before connections can be established and user access can be granted*.
  • Most popular browsing platforms—Internet Explorer, Firefox, and Google Chrome—support HTTPS for more secure and streamlined Internet browsing.
  • Switching to HTTPS can improve SEO and the rank and visibility of your website on results pages.
  • In 2014, Google confirmed a rankings boost for websites supporting HTTPS. Although the exact percentage is hard to quantify, the value of switching has increased significantly over the past four years.
  • More accurate referrer data is another benefit of switching from HTTP to HTTPS. When traffic comes through HTTP websites, for example, it shows as “direct” traffic in the analytics report even though no information has been saved. Conversely, when traffic comes through HTTPS websites, referral traffic data is preserved. As a result, you can determine precisely where your search traffic is coming from**.
  • Websites supporting HTTPS provide enhanced privacy and security. First, by verifying that your website is the one the server is supposed to connect to, and second, by encrypting all communication (including URLs) which protects browser history, credit card numbers, and passwords.

Google Gets Serious About HTTPS

In June 2014, Google launched its “HTTPS Everywhere” Campaign in an attempt to create a more secure internet. Two months later, in August 2014, Google announced that switching websites from HTTP to HTTPS may give webmasters a minor rankings boost, as an added incentive to switch. Since then, Google has taken additional—some might argue even controversial—steps to compel more webmasters to upgrade to HTTPS.

One way Google is taking control of the HTTPS movement is by marking websites that do not support HTTPS with a bright red “X” over the padlock icon in the URL bar. The purpose of the red “X” is to classify HTTP supporting websites as unencrypted, and therefore, unsafe. Last year, in January 2017, Google took their campaign one step further, and began showing “NOT SECURE” warnings on HTTP pages featuring credit card and password fields.

Presently, even more serious changes are on the horizon for users of Google Chrome, and they will be rolled out in two stages. In the first stage, which is set to begin September 2018, Google Chrome will no longer display a green “warning” icon in the URL bar for secure websites.

In the second stage, beginning October 2018, Google Chrome will display a prominent red warning on all HTTP supporting websites indicating that those sites are “Not Secure.” This new interface serves as an aggressive reminder that all HTTP websites are insecure, and that HTTPS will officially be the default state of safe websites.

Data source for both images: SEJ
https://www.searchenginejournal.com/chrome-browser-https/253801/amp/?__twitter_impression=true

Takeaway: Embrace the Changes

For those of you who have been on the fence about switching from HTTP to HTTPS, the time has come to make a decision. Not only will upgrading to HTTPS keep you in Google’s good graces, but it will also protect your website against third party hackers trying to intercept sensitive information.

According to web experts***, more than 50 percent of internet browsers worldwide use Google Chrome, so these changes will impact users across the globe. Even if your HTTP website is safe, the blanket warning issued by Chrome may scare off potential visitors, prompting them to leave your site. In short, failure to upgrade to HTTPS may negatively affect advertising impressions, affiliate clicks, site traffic, and overall revenue.

Heightened privacy and security for your site, increased optimization, and a safer Internet for all users are just a few of the reasons why switching from HTTP to HTTPS is beneficial. If you want to learn more about HTTPS, or need assistance changing your entire website from HTTP to HTTPS, Perfexion, Inc. is here to help. We specialize in managing and maximizing our clients’ web content, ranking, and search results traffic.

Contact us to learn how we can make your website more secure and keep your SEO efforts and strategy strong.

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* https://blog.easynews.com/http-vs-https-whats-the-difference/
** https://www.searchenginejournal.com/pros-cons-using-https-small-businesses/168937/
*** https://www.searchenginejournal.com/google-sets-https-deadline/236225/
“Google Sets Deadline for HTTPS and Warns Publishers to Upgrade Soon”

SEO Strategies: Mobile versus Desktop

Over the past decade, smartphones, tablets, and PCs have facilitated a vast and virtually ubiquitous online presence. Smartphones and tablets, in particular, have revolutionized the way consumers seek, search, and shop for their goods and services. These days, consumers anywhere can, with a few quick keystrokes, connect with local businesses at any point, and from any channel, in a matter of seconds. While mobile SEO, searches and  design have gained significant traction over the last couple of years, accounting for over half of all online traffic, the prevalence of desktop searches should not be overlooked or underestimated.

Mobile versus Desktop: How Do They Differ?

You might be surprised to learn that, despite the ongoing debate about which device is preferable, SEO for mobile and desktop adhere to the same basic principles and best practices. That said, there are some key differences that must be acknowledged and implemented into your overall strategy for each platform. Let’s begin by exploring why mobile and desktop have different rankings, how to compare them, and what these differences mean for your long-term SEO goals.

According to recent statistics gathered by web experts at BrightEdge, 79 percent of listings have a different rank on mobile devices compared with PCs or desktops. Furthermore, they found that the top-ranking result for a given query is different on desktop and mobile 35 percent of the time.* So, what do these statistics really suggest? First, that mobile and desktop searches use vastly different algorithms to determine SERP listing data, and second, that any successful Search Engine Optimization strategy requires a highly developed understanding of user intent.

Most popular browsing platforms—Internet Explorer, Firefox, and Google Chrome—are working to provide the best user experience for searchers, regardless of what device they are using to conduct the search. In order to do this, however, they need to establish some degree of user intent; in short, they need to anticipate the needs of the users and meet them accordingly. Although user intent differs per person (and device) the general consensus is that the intent of mobile users is more immediate and transactional, whereas the intent of desktop users is more generic and informational.

Based on the preceding generalizations, we can further surmise that users conducting searches on their mobile devices are more likely to seek and yield localized results, whereas users searching for products or services on a desktop are more likely to browse generally on various ecommerce sites.

Search Engine Optimization, SEO, is also inextricably linked to the conversions likely to occur on each device. Those of us with smartphones, for example, know firsthand how convenient the click-to-call feature is, which is what most users use. Conversely, desktop users are more inclined to send emails or submit contact forms regarding their specific inquiry.

Deciphering User Intent Through Micro-Moments

Google anticipates and interprets user intent by examining their micro-moments; that is, by analyzing the ways consumers behave online. Using these micro-moments, the search engine can process the incoming queries accordingly. If a user is searching for a product or service in Plymouth Meeting, a map proximate to their location will appear. Alternatively, if a user is searching for specific information, the Google “Quick” answer box will readily appear.**

Micro-moments are particularly telling for mobile users, who are generally in need of immediate results. As an example, a mobile user searching for “fresh produce” is likely looking to buy fresh produce right away, so SERP may return a local map showing grocery stores or farm stands nearby.

Alternatively, on a desktop, a user searching for “fresh produce” is more likely conducting a general search. The user could be looking to order fresh produce online, but they could also digress to researching the health benefits of fresh produce, searching for recipes, or looking at other pertinent content.

In sum, these micro-moments impact how SERP is constructed, and determine the relevancy of the content that appears. Site developers, marketers, and webmasters need to recognize how mobile users interact in these micro-moments—as well as how intent differs between mobile devices and desktop—if they want to ensure that the generated content corresponds to both device and user intent.

What Does the Future Hold for Online Searches?

In 2015, Google confirmed that mobile searches officially surpassed desktop searches worldwide. Two years later, in 2017, research conducted by BrightEdge showed that 57 percent of all online traffic comes from mobile devices like smartphones and tablets.*

Mobile SEO, Mobile Web Design
Mobile and Desktop Traffic

In 2018, mobile searches are continuing to outpace desktop searches, and this upward trend is projected to continue well into the future. As a response to this surge of mobile users, Google is developing a “mobile-first” algorithm as a way to compel webmasters to design their mobile sites first, prior to designing their desktop sites.

The popularity of mobile searches, however, does not diminish or negate the importance or prevalence of desktops, which account for 43 percent of all online traffic. Similar to mobile devices, desktops generate their own SERPs. Furthermore, descriptive keywords and longer articles are better suited, at least presently, for desktops and PCs.

Whatever the future holds for online searches, it is essential to have separate SEO strategies for both platforms and to track and monitor their performances regularly. Free resources like Google Analytics, for example, provide a fuller picture of such metrics — including advertising impressions, affiliate clicks, engagement rates, conversions and revenue rates, and even what percent of search traffic comes from mobile devices and desktop, respectively. These metrics will allow you to see how well you are reaching your target demographic, and also how users interact with your site on both platforms.

For best results, you would do well to hire a professional marketing company with the expertise to develop content that is compatible on both mobile devices and desktops. If you need assistance making your website responsive and mobile-ready, Perfexion, Inc. is here to help. Our qualified professionals specialize in managing and maximizing clients’ web content, ranking, and search results traffic.

Contact us to learn how we can make your website more secure and keep your SEO efforts and strategy strong.

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* https://searchengineland.com/mobile-desktop-seo-different-results-different-content-strategies-281643
** https://searchenginewatch.com/2018/05/08/seo-strategies-and-keyword-rankings-mobile-versus-desktop/

Protect Your Website from Hackers

How to Protect Your Website from Hackers
(And Save Your SEO Efforts in the Process)

Website security has been garnering a lot of attention lately. More and more website owners and web developers are paying attention to the topic of security and to the very real potential that their website can get hacked. A website that is not well protected or properly optimized for search engine optimization (SEO) is at greater risk of being hacked than one that is. Your SEO results and search engine ranking can take a hit if the security of your website has been threatened.

What are the chances of your website getting hacked? What are the most usual types of website compromises? What steps can be taken to avoid getting hacked and subsequently penalized by Google with a lower search result ranking? When you understand the answers to these questions, you’ll know what steps to take to prevent future hacks and thus ensure your SEO strategy will remain sound.

In March 2017, Google presented information on the state of website security*. Most alarming is their statistic of a 32% increase from 2015 to 2016 of the number of websites that had been hacked. Even more alarming is that Google expects that number to rise as a result of websites becoming more and more outdated and hackers becoming more and more sophisticated and aggressive.

What Are the Most Common Ways a Website Can Be Hacked?

  • Spam – Hackers upload seemingly safe and innocent content and images on legitimate websites with the purpose of redirecting users to malicious websites. Links within the content, or even clicking on or opening a document, can cause damage to your own website.
  • Botnets – Cybercriminals – botmasters – develop a network of computers that are infected with malicious software that is often capable of getting around your antivirus software and other security tools. According to Google, “Botnets steal your resources in order to do malicious things like crack passwords or crack other sites.”
  • Malware – Malware is any type of software that harms people’s data and devices. Because malware can affect your users directly, it is critical to heed all warnings against it.
  • Credit Card Fraud – Of particular concern to e-commerce websites, hackers skim credit card information and steal users’ data. This type of compromise not only hurts your users, it is a sure sign that your website is not secure – and ultimately damages your reputation.

How to Minimize Your Chances of Getting Hacked

If your site has been hacked, finding a solution to the problem can be difficult because botmasters and hackers do their best to always stay a step ahead. When you make the security of your website a top priority, you reduce the potential of hackers, malware, and bots getting in and taking over your website and the data it contains. You can, however, take steps to make sure your website is as secure as it can be.

  • Get critical notices – Once you have added your website to Google’s Search Console and verified that you own it, you will receive important notifications from Google regarding security concerns, such as hacking events, that you will want to address promptly.
  • Prioritize the security of your website – Security should be your highest priority for your website – make sure everyone who contributes to your website operations understands how critically important security is.
  • Update software – Keep all software and plug-ins updated to the latest versions and releases to minimize hacks.
  • Back up your website – Regular back-ups of your website are critical. In the event you are hacked, reverting the site to its pre-hack version is easy and efficient. Update your content management system (CMS) such as WordPress and e-commerce software as necessary and apply all security patches as they are released.
  • Install security software and tools – For added peace of mind and an extra layer of security, install security software.

 

The security of your website should be your number one priority. Without the necessary safeguards on your website, the security of your customers is largely at risk, your own data and information is jeopardized, and your brand and reputation can take a serious hit from which it is difficult, if not impossible, to recover. And, the time and energy investment in developing and implementing your SEO strategy will all be for naught, as your search engine ranking will drop. Don’t become an unfavorable Google statistic. Address weak spots and vulnerabilities and keep the security of your website a top priority.

Perfexion, Inc. takes the security of every client’s website seriously. We use SEO to manage and maximize our clients’ web content, website ranking, and search engine results traffic. And, we take steps such as regularly backing up data and updating all software and plugins, including WordPress CMS, as needed – all to protect your website, which includes not only the content, but your clients’ data.

Contact us to learn how we can make your website more secure and keep your SEO efforts and strategy strong.

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* https://webmasters.googleblog.com/2017/03/nohacked-year-in-review.html

How to Avoid Google’s Manual Actions

Google has established general webmaster quality guidelines that serve to support Google’s efforts to find, index, and rank websites in search results listings. If you (or your web developer) perform an action on your website that Google views as negative or in violation of those guidelines – an illicit, deceptive, or manipulative practice – you will find yourself in trouble with Google sooner or later.

In cases where spam is the violation, Google’s own algorithms automatically detect the violation and demote the website in search rankings. Google also relies on humans to review web pages manually. If these reviewers find a violation of the quality guidelines, they take a manual action to address it. Depending on the circumstances, the manual action could be lowering your website’s ranking, removing specific web pages or content, or, in extreme cases, removing your website completely from Google’s search index.

Information relating to all manual actions taken can be found in your website’s Manual Actions Report. You might also receive the following message on the dashboard of your search console: “This site may not perform as well in Google results because it appears to be in violation of Google’s Webmaster Guidelines.”

Google takes a manual action any time they detect that a website is attempting to trick or manipulate their search engine results and website rankings. While a manual action by Google may appear to be a negative for you or your website, it is not; manual actions are taken to ensure everyone plays by the same rules when it comes to website security, content, SEO, etc.

Manipulation of a website occurs in many forms. A few examples follow.

• Hacking of your website
• User-generated spam that appears on your site’s user profiles or guestbook or forum pages
• Artificial or deceptive external links that point to your site with the intention of manipulating your page ranking
• The content on your site is of little value, low quality, and not unique, such as occurs with content that is generated automatically or from blog posts from others
• Images and pages appearing differently on Google’s search results from those on the page or image where a user actually lands when they click on the image, an action called cloaking
• Overuse of keywords and phrases with the intent of manipulating search rankings

How to Handle a Manual Action

First and foremost, when building your website or developing content for it, understand and adhere to Google’s Webmaster Guidelines. As long as you follow the rules, do nothing that intentionally attempts to manipulate your website’s search rankings, and take steps to keep your website secure, you should not be worried about your website receiving a manual action. In fact, web developers should be doing everything they can to avoid appearing to trick Google and instead provide the best possible experience for users and visitors to the website. Of critical importance is to ensure all aspects of the technical SEO for your website are set up and working optimally so that Google can find the website and be certain it is working well and within the guidelines.

Should you receive a manual action notification, review it and take steps to address the issue. Once you have fixed the problem, you can submit a reconsideration request to Google’s webmaster team to manually review your site again.

The web developers and designers at Perfexion, Inc. take the performance of every client’s website seriously. We manage websites and regularly monitor SEO and search results. If we find something off or unusual, we check all analytics and reports to find the issue and then take immediate steps to correct the problem. When your website is properly ranked and reaching your target audience, you can trust we are following the rules.

Contact us to learn how we keep your website safe, ranked appropriately in search engines, and out of cyber jail. We want customers and visitors to your website to find your content valuable and relevant to their needs. Most of all, we want them to feel they can trust you and your website and feel secure doing business with you.

Contact Us for more information!

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* https://webmasters.googleblog.com/2017/03/nohacked-year-in-review.html

Which is Better – Organic Search or Paid Search?

Can Organic Search and Paid Search Co-exist?

Every business owner has different goals for their website. These goals could include increasing the number of web pages viewed by visitors, decreasing bounce rates, or increasing traffic from new visitors in general. Whatever your goals for your company website, the overarching goal is for your business to first be found online. How does that happen? Someone – a prospective or existing customer – has a need for a product or service and performs an online search. Where that search ends up could make or break your ability to meet your goals, depending on how well your online marketing strategy performs.

Online marketing involves the use of search engine optimization (SEO) and search engine marketing (SEM) to draw traffic. While Yahoo and Bing still get some amount of search traffic, Google is the search engine used in the vast majority of online searches. Google’s two main vehicles for returning search results are paid search and organic search. But, is one better than the other? Does organic search provide better results than paid search (or vice versa)? Online marketers everywhere have been trying to find the answer to that question for some time. Let’s next review what each type of search is as well as the main differences between the two.

SEO

A user who performs a query based on entering specific keywords and key phrases is performing a natural, or organic, search. Proper implementation of search engine optimization is the strategy used in this type of search, as SEO must align with the words and phrases a user enters to perform their search. A business appears in organic search results based solely on the content on their website/webpage and its usefulness and value to the user. Google looks for content that users will find relevant and valuable.

According to Search Engine Watch*, more than 90% of web traffic occurs as a result of a business’s website appearing on the first page of Google search results. Using relevant key words and having quality SEO content is the best way for that content to eventually get indexed in search engines and thus ranked higher in Google’s search results. (Yes, it takes time and effort for your web pages to be indexed so that they generate traffic.) Other benefits of proper SEO include increased leads and improved close rates.

Online searching and shopping has been on a swift and steady rise in recent years – and the trend shows no signs of slowing down or decreasing. Additionally, Google is, by far, most people’s preferred internet search engine. Savvy web developers and internet marketers understand this and continue to rely on proper implementation and ongoing management of SEO to keep websites as highly ranked on search engine results pages (SERPs) as possible.

SEM

Search engine marketing, on the other hand, involves the use of certain keywords in paid/sponsored online ads that appear when a user performs a search using those keywords. In contrast to SEO’s organic search quality, SEM is a paid search function in which a business actually pays for visits to their website rather than earn them through an organic search. With SEM, a business bids an amount of money on specific keywords to ensure their ad appears if it matches a user’s search query. Sponsored search results are identified as ads and appear at either the top of the search engine results page (above the list of organic search results) or along the right side of the page.

Business owners and digital marketers have found that paid search strategies such as pay-per-click pay off for them – big time. Because of the prevalence of paid ads, users have come to view these listings as normal search results, in spite of them being labeled as ads. And, a business no longer needs to wait months to be indexed and appear on a SERP, as they can pay for the opportunity for their ad to appear in search results immediately and be seen by targeted users. A well run paid search strategy can yield a hefty return on the paid ad investment.

SEO, SEM, or Both?

Together, SEO and SEM as digital marketing strategies produce results; they can increase and improve your online presence and ensure targeted users receive information that is the most relevant and valuable to them. Improved conversions, increased web traffic, more qualified leads, and ultimately, business growth and profits are all realistic with SEO and SEM campaigns that are designed to work for you. When you understand the timelines for both strategies – SEO can take months to yield results and SEM can provide virtually immediate results – you are well prepared to implement the strategy (or strategies) that best meets your digital marketing needs and overall business objectives.

If you want to learn more about how to combine SEO and SEM to boost your website’s ranking on Google, contact Perfexion, Inc., Philadelphia’s web design and development company. The professionals at PERFEXION are digital marketing experts. They collaborate with business owners to design and deliver SEO and SEM strategies that are sure to improve your bottom line.

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* https://searchenginewatch.com/sew/study/2276184/no-1-position-in-google-gets-33-of-search-traffic-study

Clickthrough Research Data Reveals the Importance of 1st, 2nd or 3rd Position in Google

How Website Ranking Affects Click-through Rates

Business owners everywhere understand the importance of keywords and Search Engine Optimization (SEO) as they relate to how well their website ranks on a search engine results page (SERP). Also important is understanding the relationship between click-through rates (CTR) and a website’s SERP ranking. When comparing CTR between sites with SERP rankings in the first, second, and third positions with CTR of sites that rank lower in search results, the difference is significant. In other words, the higher the ranking, the higher the click-through rate.

The data is indicative of when, where, and how a business might change or enhance their SEO which, in turn, enhances their ranking on search engine results pages and which can lead to improved click-through rates.

CTR for Branded/Navigational Keyword Search Results

How a user searches for a product or service is one factor that comes into play in the click-through results. If a user already knows the product they want, they type in the company name or product brand, for example, “Kellogg’s®” or “Froot Loops®.” This type of search is called a branded or navigational search. Their intent all along is to get to one specific website. The desired website appears at, or close to, the top of the search engine results page. Because the user has been presented with the exact information they searched for, the likelihood of the user clicking through to the website is high. In this scenario, it is easy to understand why a website or webpage would have a high CTR.

CTR for Keyword versus Long-tail Keyword Search Results

CTR statistics also differ depending on the length of the keyword used to perform the search – that is, when a user searches by using a one-to-two-word generic term versus a long-tail search term that contains four or more words. (Long-tail search terms typically narrow the search results field.) If our same user as above performs a search using the term “fruity cereal,” the results are naturally more general, and quite possibly not what the user is looking for.

The user next searches for “fruity cereal with marshmallows,” which narrows down the search results considerably. There are fewer fruity cereals with marshmallows than there are fruity cereals in general. Because the results are narrower – more exacting – when a long-tail search term is used, there is less competition among websites for the top positions in the search results and probably fewer ads that compete for the user’s business. The user is apt to find what they are looking for more quickly, and thus more likely to click on the search results presented. The bottom line for website owners who track SEO performance is understanding that click-through rates are better when a search is performed using long-tail keywords instead of a simple generic search.

CTR for Search Results Based on Keywords that Express Intent

Users often perform a search with a specific intent in mind and when there will be some form of interaction. For example, they might want to buy a product, compare hotel prices, or find directions to a particular location. In these cases, the user’s intent is commercial, informational, or based on location, respectively. A fourth intent – specific intent – combines all three intents in the keywords used. Competition for the top three search results positions is fierce, so intent-type keywords, especially those for commercial and location types, usually present more paid ads and other SERPs results features such as a map to show location. CTRs for website may be lower here, depending on the intent type for which the search is performed.

1st, 2nd, and 3rd Place Matter!

While the data varies among digital marketing and web experts, they all agree that the top three positions on a search engine results page, in particular Google’s, garner the highest click-through rates, with the first position racking up the most click-throughs. For example, one study indicates click-through rates for results based on a natural (organic) search range from 36% for first position, to 13% for second position, to 10% for third.

The data also indicate that more than half of users are highly likely to click on the first three results presented when the searched based on a branded term. Of further note, only a very small percentage of users who performed a natural search clicked on paid ads that appeared (versus the natural results).

The takeaway for business owners who want to improve their click-through rate is to get their website ranked at or near the top of the first page of search results. How you do this will depend on a number of factors, with
SEO
and keywords just one. An online marketing professional can show you all the ways to improve your presence in search results and start earning your own portion of the click-through business.

If you want to learn more about how to boost your website’s ranking on Google as well as improve your click-through rates, contact Philadelphia web design and development company Perfexion, Inc. The professionals at PERFEXION are digital marketing experts. They provide website audit and consultation services that give clients clear information and direction on the steps they can take to enhance their online presence.

Contact us to learn more!

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* https://moz.com/

Understanding Website Authority

Understanding Domain Authority – The Basics

If you are the owner of a website, you would do well to understand the meaning of the term domain authority and how domain authority applies to your website. Even nontechnical types should understand this important concept, given the impact it can have on the bottom line of a business.

What Is Domain Authority?

Domain authority, also known as website authority, is a ranking, or score, given to a website that indicates how well the site ranks on search engine results pages (SERPs). This score quantifies just how relevant and authoritative a website is. Domain authority is ranked on a scale of 1 to 100, with 100 the highest score possible and 1 the lowest. Experts commonly agree that a domain authority score of 80 or better is a very good score indeed one only the top, most trusted websites receive.

Domain authority takes into consideration the strength and quality of your website’s SEO as well as how likely your site will rank in search results as a function of your SEO. The stronger your SEO, the higher your domain authority, the higher your ranking on SERPs. The SEO experts at Moz* developed the concept of domain authority and its corresponding scores.

Caveats Regarding Domain Authority

  1. Do not view domain authority as the means to determining how well your website is performing based on your own SEO; instead, use domain authority as an indicator of how well your website stacks up against the competition.
  2. Your domain authority score is not a static number; as you update and change the content on your website, blog, social media, etc., your domain authority score will also change. Remember, SEO factors into the score, and new content implies a variation in SEO.

How Is My Website’s Domain Authority Determined?

Domain authority is determined based on multiple factors and components. The most basic include the following:

  • The number and quality of the links on your website – fewer high-quality links always ranks better than a large number of links of poor quality
  • Other website links – includes both those that link to yours and how many you link to – links should be to/from trusted sources and never to spam or illegal sites
  • The quality/relevance/value of the content on your website as it pertains to your industry – high domain authority sites like long-form content, video, and infographics and also content that can be shared and linked
  • The quality of your technical SEO, which looks at factors such as overuse of keywords, site speed, if images are optimized, use of heading tags, etc., to ensure the compatibility of a website with how well search engines can crawl the site and index and rank the information on it
  • The overall structure and how user-friendly a website is
  • People liking/sharing/commenting on site content on social media – website owners should share content on their own social media sites and provide links for others to do the same; include social media icons with all web content to make it easy for readers to like and share it

Various online tools are available that let you determine the domain authority score for your own website. Additionally, you can check the average score for your industry overall – information that is helpful if you want to know if your site is on par with the competition or if it is lagging far behind.

Do not underestimate the value of your domain authority. Some consider it to be the most accurate measurement available for determining how a website ranks in search engine results which is the ultimate determinant of how much organic web traffic you receive.

If you want to learn more about domain authority or what you need to do to improve your domain authority ranking, Perfexion, Inc. can help. The professionals at PERFEXION understand domain authority and SEO and provide a full range of website audit and consultation services for their clients. As a Philadelphia-based web design and development company, PERFEXION stays abreast of all the latest changes in the industry and wants to keep their clients up to speed as well.

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* https://moz.com/

Marry SEO Content and Marketing Strategies

Content Marketing and SEO Go Hand in Hand

Web developers have traditionally viewed search engine optimization (SEO) and content marketing as two separate and distinct tools for driving qualified traffic to a website. More recently, however, that thinking has changed. According to entrepreneur and online marketing guru and influencer Neil Patel, “SEO is all about content marketing. And content marketing is all about SEO.” In other words, these two areas are not mutually exclusive; using one does not negate the need to use the other, and vice versa. In fact, SEO and content marketing need each other, and each should integrate the other.

To understand this, you must first be clear on what each area does individually. The job of search engine optimization is to make sure your website and web content are visible on search engine results pages (SERPs) when someone performs an internet search (through Google, Yahoo, Bing, or other search engine) for your service or product offering. On-page SEO activity is all the technical stuff you can do relative to keywords and key phrases behind the scenes of your website, while off-page steps you can take, such as social media, improve your site’s organic search results.

On the other hand, according to Content Marketing Institute, content marketing is “… a strategic marketing approach focused on creating and distributing valuable, relevant, and consistent content to attract and retain a clearly defined audience — and, ultimately, to drive profitable customer action.” With content marketing, customers and prospective customers find the information on your website to be interesting and engaging, and useful in that it helps them solve a problem or fulfill a need. Your content marketing establishes you as an authority in the market and helps you build relationships and trust with customers. The objective of content marketing is to increase sales and drive customers to your online business who are qualified and likely to become repeat clients.

When SEO and content marketing combine/intersect/overlap/converge, etc., the results are powerful indeed. To achieve the desired results, the technical aspects of your SEO efforts must cross into your content marketing efforts, and SEO techniques should be applied as you implement content marketing – neither should be developed or applied in a silo.

How SEO and Content Marketing Combine Forces

    • Keywords: The primary component of SEO involves using the right keywords (including keyword phrases and long-tail keywords), plus tracking how well they rank in SERPs. Since long gone are the days of loading up a page of content with keywords and phrases that appear to have been combined by a robot instead of a human, web content must use keywords strategically in content that is well-written and relevant to the user.

 

    • Links and linkbacks: When the content you produce is good – really good – others will want to link back to it. Consider this: If other users or websites find the content on your blog to be relevant, interesting, and valuable, they will link back to it from their own site – a situation SEO thrives on. Let your content marketing specialists develop the content you need to attract attention and drive others to click on links to your site.

 

  • Fresh content delivers: Content marketing, with full attention to SEO, is not a once-and-done deal. Don’t think you can post amazing content and then sit back and wait for the results to pour in. For this dynamic to deliver the best results in terms of search engine indexing and ranking, you need to produce fresh content on a consistent basis – and ensure the new content is just as valuable and makes just as good use of SEO as the content that came before it.

The importance of content marketing combined with proper SEO cannot be overstated. Done right, your SEO strategy should mean your business is found organically online and your content marketing strategy engages users and converts them into paying customers.

If you would like to learn more about how SEO and content marketing can work for your business, contact the experts at Perfexion, Inc. Perfexion’s qualified professionals specialize in managing and maximizing clients’ web content, ranking, and search results traffic.

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Together, Local Business Listings and SEO Get Results

The longevity and prosperity of local businesses is largely determined by the ranking, reputation, and revenue they generate over time. There are many ways to maximize ranking, reputation, and revenue, but inclusion in local business listings, both in print and online, remains one of the most effective and essential strategies to increase visibility and enhance bottom line results.

The Evolution of Local Business Listings

Local business listings provide the foundation for successful business marketing. In fact, listed businesses have significantly higher ranking, reputation, and revenue than their unlisted counterparts; especially if they are listed on multiple online platforms. Today, internet marketing is all but a necessity for local businesses. If your brick and mortar business does not also have a robust online presence, it might as well be invisible to consumers. But, how exactly did we get here and what are the advantages of web-based listings? Let’s explore the evolution of business listings, including their ubiquitous online presence, in more detail.

In many ways, phone books were the progenitors of contemporary search engines like Google and Yahoo. Prior to the advent of the internet and the smartphone, the Yellow Pages were our main source of information for local businesses, products, and services. For local business owners, paid advertising in the Yellow Pages was the single most effective way to increase visibility among consumers. Over time, savvy business owners expanded their marketing efforts to include additional forms of offline advertisement such as newspapers, brochures, coupons, radio ads, and television commercials

While many of these marketing strategies remain prevalent, the growing consensus among business owners and marketing experts is that traditional, offline advertising is costly, competitive, and untenable in the long-term. Our fingers may still be doing the walking, so to speak, but customers no longer need to leaf through print brochures, directories, magazines, or newspapers to find the local businesses they need. In the Information Age, consumers anywhere can, with a few quick keystrokes, instantly connect with local businesses via digital listings on major platforms like Bing Places for Business and Google My Business Listing. Welcome to the future!

The Internet is Open for Business… Local Listings

Smartphones, tablets, and PCs have facilitated a vast and virtually constant online presence. Consider the following statistics: 96% of local searches are conducted by PC owners; 64% of local customers use search engines and directories to find local businesses; 50% of local mobile searchers search for business information (company name, address, or number); and 46% of all Google searches are local.* These statistics suggest that customers use the internet exponentially more than any other medium to search for local businesses.

Online listings are popular, in part, because they combine aspects of both digital and print marketing into one comprehensive index. Moreover, inclusion in many online directories like Bing Places for Business, Foursquare, Google My Business Listing, and Yelp is free. Whichever platform(s) you use to market your business, the
following components should be included**:

  • Business name/title
  • Address
  • Phone/fax number
  • Website URL
  • Categories
  • Description
  • Tagline
  • Social profiles
  • Images
  • Additional media
  • Certifications
  • Brands carried
  • Payment types accepted
  • Attributes

 

Done correctly, local business listings are extremely informative. From a single listing, customers can discover your business, find out where it is located, learn what products and services are offered, what offers and promotions are available, who the core clientele is, and how satisfied former and current customers are. Many local listings also support images, videos, virtual tours, and live links to social media profiles, thus enabling customers to interact with the business and/or business representatives directly.

Local Listing, Local Business Listing, Local SEO
Local Business Listing for SEO

The quality of your business listing is directly related to your search engine optimization and how well you use keywords and key phrases. SEO is an essential component of improving your local search engine rankings and driving search traffic to your website. The more consistent and comprehensive your business listing, the higher your ranking, reputation, and revenue.

Choose Platforms with Caution

Digital listings have certainly revolutionized how local businesses promote their products and services. That said, however, the advertising potential of local business listings is contingent upon the platform(s) you use. A strong online presence is important, so you must choose local business directories that will enhance your Local SEO efforts. Ideally, you want your business information listed on platforms that generate high volumes of search traffic. Presence on major directories such as Bing Places for Business, Google My Business Listing, Google+, Facebook, Foursquare, Superpages, and Yelp means your business will be visible to a vast audience of local searchers.

Anyone who has performed a search for a local business recently knows the extent to which local directories dominate the initial pages of their search results. It stands to reason, then, that local directory marketing has a higher conversion rate than most other advertising options. Listing your business in the most relevant, quality directories increases the probability that your business will be searched for, and found by, the quality – and qualified – customers you want. As your business gains traction and spreads across the web, you can join more niche platforms specific to the industry and geography of your company.

Any data published about your business, whether in print or online, impacts the ranking, reputation, and revenue generated by your company. For this very reason, no local business owner can afford to publish information that is inconsistent or incorrect. In order for local business listings to be truly valuable, all data must be accurate, complete, and easily searchable. For best results, you would do well to hire a professional digital marketing company with the expertise to support all aspects of your online advertising, to include:

  • Ad design and development
  • Content development enhanced for SEO
  • Placement of the ad on the local listing directories of your choice
  • Monitoring and tracking how well your ad performs, and adjusting as necessary to improve results

 

If you need assistance creating an online listing for your local business, Perfexion, Inc. is here to help. Our qualified professionals specialize in managing and maximizing clients’ web content, ranking, and search results traffic.

Contact us to learn more!

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* https://www.brightlocal.com/about-local-seo/
** https://moz.com/learn/seo/local-business-listing-components

How Long-Tail Keywords Enhance Your SEO

For webmasters, content developers, and business owners alike, search engine optimization, or SEO, is an essential part of driving search traffic to your website. There are several ways to enhance SEO and improve rank and visibility on search engine results pages, but using long-tail keywords remains one of the most important and effective strategies for increased optimization. Long-tail keywords are specific keyword phrases, containing approximately three to six words, which generate the most relevant results concordant with your search.

Keywords: What Are They Used For?

Keywords provide the foundation for search engine optimization. They are the words or phrases that, when entered into search engines such as Google and Yahoo, yield hundreds of results pages in seconds. Search engines expedite and simplify the research process, but it is important to remember that the quality and relevancy of the results you see depends largely on the keywords and phrases you specified at the start of your search. Let’s explore some of the pros and cons associated with short- and long-tail keywords in more detail.

Short-tail keywords are succinct and consist only of one or two words. Many users, especially those conducting general research on a given topic, find the copious results pages generated by short-tail keywords both expedient and informative. From a business and marketing perspective, however, short-tail keywords are costly, competitive, and largely unsustainable. While popular head terms like digital marketing and online blogging generate high volumes of organic search traffic (that is, the shorter the keyword, the higher the volume), they tend to have abysmally low conversion rates. This may seem paradoxical, but it actually makes perfect sense. Remember that, of the millions of searches in which your chosen keywords appear, only a handful of the users who encounter them are your target audience. Although your search traffic volume is high, the trade-off is that very few users will actually browse your site and/or become a customer.

Conversely, long-tail keywords are lengthier and tend to yield more specific and relevant results. Many users, especially those looking for a certain business, product, or service, prefer long-tail keywords as a way to streamline and refine their search. Which of the following search terms do you think will return the best, most specific results – socks or red and black argyle socks for men?

While long-tail keywords typically generate less organic search traffic (that is, the longer the keyword, the less the volume), what they lack in volume, they make up for with consistent, stable conversion rates. The targeted nature of long-tail search traffic—coupled with lower costs, minimal competition, and relevant clicks and queries—increases the probability that you will find your ideal customers, and that your ideal customers will, in turn, find you.

Why Long-Tail Keywords Are Essential for SEO

• According to web experts*, long-tail keywords account for 70% of all search volume traffic, which suggests that most of your website traffic is contingent upon, and generated by, long-tail searches. If you want further proof, data from Google Analytics will likely support the assertion that a majority of the queries made with respect to your website or the products and services you offer contain long-tail keywords.

• A robust correlation exists between long-tail keywords and increased conversion rates. Statistics indicate that the average conversion rate for long-tail keywords is 36%. Although conversation rates are constantly in flux (and vary depending on the products being sold and the demand for them at a given time) the specificity of long-tail keywords increases the likelihood that customers will visit your site and purchase from your company.

• As an addendum to the preceding point, even if a customer does not make a purchase during their initial visit, if they find your website useful—that is, if your website features products and information specific to their needs—they are likely to return and share your site with others.

Long-tail keywords have a higher optimization ranking than short-tail keywords. While the type of search potential customers perform depends entirely on the type of business you own (and on the type of traffic you hope to generate), long-tail keywords outperform short-tail terms in four out of five categories including competition, focus, cost, and conversion rate.

Long Tail Keywords, Shorty Tail Keywords, Keywords
Long Tail and Short Tail Keywords for SEO

Data Source: SEOPressor

Short Tail Or Long Tail Keywords? — A Side-by-Side Comparison

• Done correctly, long-tail keywords provide useful and necessary context to your digital content. Without proper context, the intent and use of your selected keywords may confuse or mislead users, or even direct them to a different web page or website altogether, and thereby return the exact opposite results you want. Popular search engines like Google, Bing, and Yahoo give higher ranking and visibility to keywords that are contextualized in sentences, paragraphs, webpages, etc.

• How people search for information on the internet is, without a doubt, changing rapidly. Voice assistants like Amazon Echo and Google Home are revolutionizing information input, output, and the role of SEO generally. Long-tail keywords will drive voice searches in the future, but first, voice assistants must be trained to receive, process, and compute long-tail keywords into relevant information as effectively as search engines do.

Although this blog focuses on using long-tail keywords to improve SEO, it is important to remember that keyword marketing is unique for every business; there is no one-size-fits-all strategy for keyword searches. That said, current SEO campaigns emphasize the importance of the user experience and intent, so, whichever keywords you choose—long-tail or short-tail—make them as user-friendly as possible. If you want to learn more about how long-tail keywords enhance your online SEO and/or how to successfully integrate them in your digital marketing efforts, Perfexion, Inc. is here to help. We specialize in managing and maximizing our clients’ web content, ranking, and search results traffic.

Contact us to learn more!

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